2 Chronicles 10 – The Reign of Rehoboam
A. Rehoboam and the nation at Shechem.
1. (1-5) The elders of Israel offer Rehoboam the throne of Israel.
And Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king. So it happened, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it (he was in Egypt, where he had fled from the presence of King Solomon), that Jeroboam returned from Egypt. Then they sent for him and called him. And Jeroboam and all Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” So he said to them, “Come back to me after three days.” And the people departed.
a. Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king: This was a logical continuation of the Davidic dynasty. David was succeeded by his son Solomon, and now Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, was assumed to be the next king.
i. Rehoboam was the only son of Solomon that we know by name. Solomon had 1000 wives and concubines, yet we read of one son he had to bear up his name, and he was a fool. This demonstrates that sin is a bad way of building up a family.
ii. “It is difficult to believe that he had no other sons; yet it is a fact that Rehoboam is the only one mentioned (1 Chronicles 3:10).” (Knapp)
iii. Shechem was a city with a rich history. Abraham worshipped there (Genesis 12:6). Jacob built an altar and purchased land there (Genesis 33:18-20). Joseph was buried there (Joshua 24:32). It was also the geographical center of the northern tribes. All in all, it showed that Rehoboam was in a position of weakness, having to meet the ten northern tribes on their territory, instead of demanding that representatives come to Jerusalem.
b. When Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it: Jeroboam was mentioned previously in 1 Kings 11:26-40. God told him through a prophet that he would rule over a portion of a divided Israel. Naturally, Jeroboam was interested in Solomon’s successor. He was specifically part of the group of elders that addressed Rehoboam.
c. Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father: Solomon was a great king, but he took a lot from the people. The people of Israel wanted relief from the heavy taxation and forced service of Solomon’s reign, and they offered allegiance to Rehoboam if he agreed to this.
i. God warned Israel about this in 1 Samuel 8:10-19, when through Samuel, the LORD spoke of what a king would take from Israel. After the warning, the people still wanted a king, and now they knew what it was like to be ruled by a taking king.
ii. Sadly, the elders of Israel made no spiritual demand or request on Rehoboam. Seemingly, the gross idolatry and apostasy of Solomon didn’t bother them at all.
2. (6-7) The counsel from Rehoboam’s older advisors.
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, saying, “How do you advise me to answer these people?” And they spoke to him, saying, “If you are kind to these people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be your servants forever.”
a. Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived: Wisely, Rehoboam asked for the counsel of these older, experienced men. They seemed to advise Solomon well, so it was fitting that Rehoboam asked for their advice.
b. If you are kind to these people…they will be your servants forever: The elders knew that Rehoboam was not Solomon, and could not expect the same from the people that Solomon did. Rehoboam had to relate to the people based on who he was, not on who his father was. If he showed kindness and a servant’s heart to the people, they would love and serve him forever. This was good advice.
3. (8-11) The counsel from Rehoboam’s younger advisors.
But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?” Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you should speak to the people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’; thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’”
a. But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men: Before Rehoboam ever consulted with the younger men he rejected the advice of the elders.
i. This is a common phenomenon today – what some call “advice shopping.” The idea is that you keep asking different people for advice until you find someone who will tell you what you want to hear. This is an unwise and ungodly way to get counsel. It is better to have a few trusted counselors you will listen to – even when they tell you what you don’t want to hear.
b. And consulted the young men who had grown up with him: These men were much more likely to tell Rehoboam what he already thought. By turning to those likely to think just as he did, it shows that Rehoboam only asked for advice for the sake of appearances.
i. Their unwise advice shows the wisdom of seeking counsel from those outside our immediate situation and context. Sometimes an outsider can see things more clearly than those who share our same experiences.
ii. “The ‘young men’ to who Rehoboam preferred to turn were probably some of Solomon’s many sons, rendered callous by upbringing in the luxurious harem and court at Jerusalem.” (Payne)
c. And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke: The younger men offered the opposite advice to the elders. They suggested an adversarial approach, one that would make Rehoboam more feared than Solomon was.
i. Solomon asked a lot of Israel, in both taxes and service. Yet we don’t have the impression that Israel followed Solomon out of fear, but out of a sense of shared vision and purpose. They believed in what Solomon wanted to do, and were willing to sacrifice to accomplish it. Rehoboam did not appeal to any sense of shared vision and purpose – he simply wanted the people to follow his orders out of the fear of a tyrant.
ii. “He attempted to continue the despotism of his father, though he lacked his father’s refinement and ability to fascinate.” (Morgan)
iii. “With a dozen rash words, Rehoboam, the bungling dictator, opened the door for four hundred years of strife, weakness, and, eventually, the destruction of the entire nation.” (Dilday)
iv. My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! A targum translates this, “My weakness shall be stronger than the might of my father.” (Clarke)
4. (12-15) Rehoboam answers Jeroboam and the elders of Israel harshly.
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king had directed, saying, “Come back to me the third day.” Then the king answered them roughly. King Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders, and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!” So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from God, that the LORD might fulfill His word, which He had spoken by the hand of Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
a. So the king did not listen to the people: In this case, Rehoboam clearly should have listened to the people. This is not to say that a leader should always lead by popular vote, but a leader needs the wisdom to know when what the people want is best for them.
i. Rehoboam was a fool. Ironically, his father Solomon worried about losing all he worked for under a foolish successor: Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19)
ii. “Rehoboam was a fool; and through his folly he lost his kingdom. He is not the only example on record: the Stuarts lost the realm of England much in the same way.” (Clarke)
iii. “Livy saith, when a state is ripe for ruin, all wholesome counsels are fatally but foolishly slighted.” (Trapp)
b. For the turn of events was from God: God managed this whole series of events, but He did not make Rehoboam take this unwise and sinful action. God simply left Rehoboam alone and allowed him to make the critical errors his sinful heart wanted to make.
i. “It seemed to be altogether a piece of human folly and passion; but now we are suddenly brought into the presence of God, and told that beneath the plottings and plannings of man He was carrying out His eternal purpose…. He makes the wrath of man to praise Him, and weaves the malignant work of Satan into his plans.” (Meyer)
ii. “Notice also, dear friends, that God is in events which are produced by the sin and the stupidity of men. This breaking up of the kingdom of Solomon into two parts was the result of Solomon’s sin and Rehoboam’s folly; yet God was in it: “This thing is from me, saith the Lord.” God had nothing to do with the sin or the folly, but in some way which we can never explain, in a mysterious way in which we are to believe without hesitation, God was in it all.” (Spurgeon)
B. The revolt against Rehoboam.
1. (16-17) Jeroboam leads those leaving Rehoboam’s rule.
Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying:
“What share have we in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.
Every man to your tents, O Israel!
Now see to your own house, O David!”
So all Israel departed to their tents. But Rehoboam reigned over the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah.
a. What share have we in David? Rehoboam’s foolishness made Israel reject not only Rehoboam, but also the entire dynasty of David. They rejected the descendants of Israel’s greatest king.
b. Rehoboam reigned over the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah: This signals the division of the twelve tribes into two kingdoms; a northern kingdom made up of ten tribes and a southern kingdom made up of Judah and Benjamin.
2. (18-19) Israel rebels against the house of David.
Then King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was in charge of revenue; but the children of Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore King Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
a. King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was in charge of the revenue; but the children of Israel stoned him with stones: Apparently, Rehoboam did not take the rebellions seriously until this happened. When his chief tax collector was murdered, he knew that the ten tribes were serious about their rebellion.
i. Hadoram was the wrong man for Rehoboam to send. He was famous for his harsh policy of forced labor (1 Kings 4:6 and 5:14). “He was probably one of the most hated figures in the land, an embodiment of oppression.” (Payne). Rehoboam probably sent Hadoram because he wanted to make good on his promise to punish those who opposed him. His tough-guy policy didn’t work.
ii. “Rehoboam makes one pathetic effort to restore unity, perfectly illustrating the poverty of his policy.” (Selman)
b. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day: From this point on in the history of Israel, the name “Israel” referred to the ten northern tribes and the name “Judah” referred to the southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah.
i. There was a long-standing tension between the ten northern tribes and the combined group of Judah and Benjamin. There were two earlier rebellions along this line of potential division, in the days after Absalom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 19:40-43), which developed into the rebellion of Sheba (2 Samuel 20:1-2).
ii. “Rehoboam ought to have been thankful that God’s love to David had left him even two tribes.” (Knapp)
2 Chronicles 9 – More Achievements of Solomon
A. Solomon hosts the queen of Sheba.
1. (1-4) The queen of Sheba comes to Jerusalem.
Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test Solomon with hard questions, having a very great retinue, camels that bore spices, gold in abundance, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. So Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for Solomon that he could not explain it to her. And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers and their apparel, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her.
a. The queen of Sheba: Sheba (also known as Sabea) was where modern-day Yemen is today (Southern Arabia). We know from geography this was a wealthy kingdom, with much gold, spices, and precious woods. History also tells us that they were known to have queens as well as kings.
i. This was a long trip – up to about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers). She probably came as part of a trade delegation (1 Kings 10:2-5), but there is no doubt that she was highly motivated to see Solomon and his kingdom.
b. To test Solomon with hard questions: Because Solomon was internationally famous for his wisdom, the queen of Sheba came to test this great wisdom.
c. Having a very great retinue: This queen traveled in the manner of queens – with a large royal procession, heavily laden with gifts and goods for trade.
d. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart: Solomon’s kingdom was famous not only for its material prosperity but also for his great wisdom. The queen of Sheba had great, and seemingly difficult, questions and Solomon answered all her questions.
i. “The hard questions were not just riddles, but included difficult diplomatic and ethical questions…. The test was not an academic exercise but to see if he would be a trustworthy business party and a reliable ally capable of giving help.” (Wiseman)
ii. “Bring your hard questions to Christ; He is greater than Solomon.” (Meyer)
d. When the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food on his table…there was no more spirit in her: This queen was obviously familiar with the world of royal splendor and luxury. Yet she was completely overwhelmed by the wisdom of Solomon and the glory of his kingdom.
i. “What happened to the queen of Sheba is a natural and not an uncommon effect which will be produced in a delicate sensible mind at the sight of rare and extraordinary productions of art.” (Clarke)
2. (5-8) The reaction of the queen of Sheba.
Then she said to the king: “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe their words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me. You exceed the fame of which I heard. Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on His throne to be king for the LORD your God! Because your God has loved Israel, to establish them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness.”
a. Indeed the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me: The queen of Sheba heard wonderful things about Solomon and his kingdom, but upon seeing it with her own eyes she realized it was far greater than she had heard.
b. Happy are your men and happy are these your servants: It is a joyful thing to serve a great, wise, and rich king. If it was a happy thing to serve Solomon, it is a much happier thing to serve Jesus.
c. Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you: This is an example of what God wanted to do for Israel under the promises of the Old Covenant. God promised Israel that if they obeyed under the Old Covenant, He would bless them so tremendously that the world would notice and give glory to the Lord GOD of Israel.
i. Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth…. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. (Deuteronomy 28:1, 10)
ii. God wanted to reach the nations through an obedient and blessed Israel. If Israel did not obey, then God would speak to the nations through a thoroughly disciplined Israel.
d. Blessed be the LORD your God: It is fair to ask if this was a true confession of faith, expressing allegiance to the God of Israel. Taken in their context, these words may not be more than the queen’s response to the astonishing blessing evident in Solomon’s Jerusalem.
i. “Her statement about the blessings of the Lord on Israel and Solomon in verse 8 were no more than a polite reference to Solomon’s God…. There is no record that she accepted Solomon’s God, who was so majestically edified by the temple.” (Dilday)
ii. “Praise to the LORD implies recognition of Israel’s national God and need not necessarily be an expression of personal faith.” (Wiseman)
iii. If we take the queen of Sheba as an example of a seeker, we see that Solomon impressed her with his wealth and splendor, and also impressed her personally. But she returned home without an evident expression of faith in the God of Israel. This shows that impressing seekers with facilities and programs and organization and professionalism isn’t enough.
iv. Regardless of the result of her search, we can admire her seeking.
· She came from a great distance.
· She came with gifts to offer.
· She came to question and to learn.
· She came and saw the riches of the king.
· She came for an extended period.
· She came telling all that was on her heart.
v. Jesus used the queen of Sheba as an example of a seeker: The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. (Matthew 12:42) If the queen of Sheba sought Solomon and the splendor of his kingdom so diligently, how much more should people today seek Jesus and the glory of His Kingdom. She will certainly also rise up in judgment with this generation.
e. Because your God has loved Israel forever…therefore He made you king over them: This statement is especially meaningful because Solomon was not necessarily the most logical successor of his father David. There were several sons of David born before Solomon. “It was God’s special act to make him king rather than his elder brother.” (Poole)
3. (9-12) An exchange of gifts.
And she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, spices in great abundance, and precious stones; there never were any spices such as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. Also, the servants of Hiram and the servants of Solomon, who brought gold from Ophir, brought algum wood and precious stones. And the king made walkways of the algum wood for the house of the LORD and for the king’s house, also harps and stringed instruments for singers; and there were none such as these seen before in the land of Judah. Now King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all she desired, whatever she asked, much more than she had brought to the king. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.
a. There never were any spices such as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon: She came from a region rich in spices and skilled in the processing of spices.
b. Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all she desired: Solomon would not allow the queen of Sheba to give him more than he gave back to her. This description of Solomon’s measure of generosity to the queen of Sheba also describes the measure of God’s generosity towards us.
i. According to tradition – fanciful stories, perhaps – the queen of Sheba wanted a son by Solomon, and he obliged her. Her child was named Menilek, and he became the ancestor of all subsequent Ethiopian monarchs.
B. Solomon’s great wealth.
1. (13-14) Solomon’s yearly income.
The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, besides what the traveling merchants and traders brought. And all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon.
a. Six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold: This is a vast amount of gold, which came to Solomon yearly. One commentator sets the value of the 666 talents of gold at $281,318,400. According to the 2016 price of gold ($1269 an ounce) the value would be $1,019,565,360. This speaks not only to the great wealth of Solomon, but it also makes him one of the only two people in the Bible associated with the number 666.
i. The other Biblical connection to 666 is the end-times world dictator and opponent of God and His people often known as the Antichrist (Revelation 13:18). In fact, the Revelation passage specifically says that the number 666 is the number of a man, and the man may be Solomon.
ii. This isn’t to say that Solomon was the Antichrist or that the coming Antichrist will be some weird reincarnation of Solomon. But it may indicate that the Antichrist may not be someone purely evil from the very beginning. Instead, he may be like Solomon – a good man corrupted.
b. Besides what the traveling merchants and traders brought: Solomon received more than 666 talents of gold a year. The amount of 666 talents was just his beginning or base salary.
i. The writer of Chronicles gave a subtle warning signal here. He assumed his readers knew the instructions for future kings of Israel in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. He assumed we know verse 17 of that passage, which says: nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. God blessed Solomon with great riches, but Solomon allowed that blessing to turn into a danger because he disobediently multiplied silver and gold for himself.
2. (15-28) Examples of Solomon’s wealth and prosperity.
And King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels of hammered gold went into each shield. He also made three hundred shields of hammered gold; three hundred shekels of gold went into each shield. The king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon. Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne; there were armrests on either side of the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the armrests. Twelve lions stood there, one on each side of the six steps; nothing like this had been made for any other kingdom. All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon. For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Hiram. Once every three years the merchant ships came, bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys. So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart. Each man brought his present: articles of silver and gold, garments, armor, spices, horses, and mules, at a set rate year by year. Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king at Jerusalem. So he reigned over all the kings from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedar trees as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland. And they brought horses to Solomon from Egypt and from all lands.
a. Two hundred large shields of hammered gold.… three hundred shields of hammered gold: These shields made beautiful displays in the House of the Forest of Lebanon (1 Kings 10:17), but they were of no use in battle. Gold was too heavy and too soft to be used as a metal for effective shields. This shows Solomon had the image of a warrior king, but without the substance.
i. According to Dilday, each large shield was worth about $120,000. The smaller shields were worth $30,000. $33 million was invested in gold ceremonial shields. According to 2016 prices ($1269 an ounce) and assuming a 75-pound talent, the larger shields were worth $152,280, the smaller shields worth $76,140, and the total invested in ceremonial shields was more than $53 million.
b. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon: This was a statement of wealth. If taken seriously, it shows the tremendous abundance of Solomon’s kingdom. Truly, King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom, and the promises of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 were fulfilled in his reign: The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. (Deuteronomy 28:12)
c. All the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart: This was another fulfillment of the promises of Deuteronomy 28: And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 28:13)
d. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones: When we think of Solomon’s great wealth, we also consider that he originally did not set his heart upon riches. He deliberately asked for wisdom to lead the people of God instead of riches or fame. God promised to also give Solomon riches and fame, and God fulfilled His promise.
i. We also consider that Solomon gave an eloquent testimony to the vanity of riches as the preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He powerfully showed that there was no ultimate satisfaction through materialism. We don’t have to be as rich as Solomon to learn the same lesson.
e. They brought horses to Solomon from Egypt and from all lands: At the end of this great description of Solomon’s wealth and splendor, we have the sound of this dark note. This was in direct disobedience to Deuteronomy 17:16, which said to the kings of Israel: But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, “You shall not return that way again.”
4. (29-31) The end of Solomon’s reign.
Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat? Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. Then Solomon rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David his father. And Rehoboam his son reigned in his place.
a. Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years: Many commentators believe that Solomon began his reign when he was about 20 years old. This means that Solomon did not live a particularly long life and the promise made in 1 Kings 3:14 was not fulfilled for Solomon, because of his disobedience.
i. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days. (1 Kings 3:14)
ii. “When we consider the excess in which he lived, and the criminal passions which he must have indulged among his thousand wives, and their idolatrous and impure worship, this life was as long as could be reasonably expected.” (Clarke)
b. Then Solomon rested with his fathers: This does not necessarily mean that Solomon died a saved man. It is a familiar phrase used in 1 and 2 Kings (used 25 times) and was used of such wicked kings as Ahab (1 Kings 22:40). It simply means that Solomon passed to the world beyond. We cannot say with certainty that he is in heaven.
i. “Yielding to certain lower things of his nature, he became a slave to them, and dragged down his nation with him. So long as he remained on the throne, the people were solaced and drugged by the material magnificence; but underneath, the spirit of rebellion and revolt was at work, ready to break out into open manifestation directly he was removed.” (Morgan)
ii. “The story is perhaps one of the most striking illustrations of the fact that opportunity and privilege, even God bestowed, are not enough in themselves to assure full realisation.” (Morgan)
2 Chronicles 8 – Achievements of Solomon
A. Solomon and the surrounding nations.
1. (1-6) The dominion of Solomon.
It came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the house of the LORD and his own house, that the cities which Hiram had given to Solomon, Solomon built them; and he settled the children of Israel there. And Solomon went to Hamath Zobah and seized it. He also built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the storage cities which he built in Hamath. He built Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon, fortified cities with walls, gates, and bars, also Baalath and all the storage cities that Solomon had, and all the chariot cities and the cities of the cavalry, and all that Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.
a. At the end of twenty years: It took Solomon seven years to build the temple and 13 years to build his palace. At the end of these twenty years his kingdom was secure, stable, and blessed.
b. He also built…. He built…. and all that Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem: This passage reflects Solomon’s great heart and ambition as a builder. He energetically settled new cities and built storage cities, fortifications, chariot cities, and cities of the cavalry.
i. A problem comes in reconciling the mention of the cities that Hiram gave to Solomon, because 1 Kings 9:11-14 indicates that they were given by Solomon to Hiram. “While textual disturbance is possible, it seems more probable that they had been returned to Solomon, either because they were unacceptable (1 Kings 9:12-13) or because they had been collateral for a loan (1 Kings 9:14).” (Selman)
ii. Sadly, this new emphasis on chariots and cavalry shows that Solomon did not take God’s word as seriously as he should have. In Deuteronomy 17:16, God spoke specifically to the future kings of Israel: But he shall not multiply horses for himself. It would have been much better if Solomon had possessed the heart reflected in Psalm 20:7: Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
2. (7-10) Solomon and the conquered peoples of his dominion.
All the people who were left of the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who were not of Israel; that is, their descendants who were left in the land after them, whom the children of Israel did not destroy; from these Solomon raised forced labor, as it is to this day. But Solomon did not make the children of Israel servants for his work. Some were men of war, captains of his officers, captains of his chariots, and his cavalry. And others were chiefs of the officials of King Solomon: two hundred and fifty, who ruled over the people.
a. From these Solomon raised forced labor: Solomon’s practice of using the people of neighboring conquered nations as forced labor is also described in 1 Kings 5:15-18.
b. Solomon did not make the children of Israel servants for his work: Israelites were used for the work of building the temple and Solomon’s palace, but they were not forced labor (1 Kings 5:13-14). They were often used in the management of the forced labor (who ruled over the people).
B. Solomon and the daughter of Pharaoh.
1. (11) Solomon marries an Egyptian princess.
Now Solomon brought the daughter of Pharaoh up from the City of David to the house he had built for her, for he said, “My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places to which the ark of the LORD has come are holy.”
a. Solomon brought the daughter of Pharaoh up from the City of David to the house he had built for her: This marriage to a princess of Egypt was the first of Solomon’s many unwise marriages (1 Kings 11:1-3). These unwise marriages launched the spiritual downfall of Solomon.
b. My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places to which the ark of the LORD has come are holy: With this, Solomon admitted that his wife was an unbeliever and unholy – yet he married her just the same. This led Solomon along a remarkably wicked path (1 Kings 11:4-8).
i. “Is not this a proof that he considered his wife to be a heathen, and not proper to dwell in a place which had been sanctified? Solomon had not yet departed from the true God.” (Clarke)
ii. “Solomon had, against the law of God, married this and other strange wives, for politic ends no doubt, and as hoping that by his wisdom he could reclaim them, or at least rule them…. Howbeit afterwards, overcome by the importunities of his strange wives, he yielded to them shamefully. Watch, therefore, and beware.” (Trapp)
iii. “To build a house for Pharaoh’s daughter outside the Holy City is to open its gates sooner or later to Pharaoh’s gods.” (Morgan)
iv. “The blessedness of the marriage tie depends on whether the twain are one in spirit, in a common love for Christ, and endeavour for his glory. Nothing is more terrible than when either admits in the secrecy of the heart, concerning the other, My husband or my wife cannot accompany me into the holy places where I was reared, and in which my best life finds its home.” (Meyer)
2. (12-16) The order of Solomon’s administration.
Then Solomon offered burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of the LORD which he had built before the vestibule, according to the daily rate, offering according to the commandment of Moses, for the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the three appointed yearly feasts; the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. And, according to the order of David his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, the Levites for their duties (to praise and serve before the priests) as the duty of each day required, and the gatekeepers by their divisions at each gate; for so David the man of God had commanded. They did not depart from the command of the king to the priests and Levites concerning any matter or concerning the treasuries. Now all the work of Solomon was well-ordered from the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was completed.
a. Solomon offered burnt offerings: In accordance with the commanded morning and evening sacrifices (according to the daily rate as mentioned in Numbers 28:1-8) Solomon administrated the burnt offering for Israel. He also observed the other sacrifices commanded by the Law of Moses.
b. According to the order of David his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service: Solomon carried out the administration for the temple service as it was originally organized by King David (1 Chronicles 24).
c. Now all the work of Solomon was well-ordered: This was a reflection of his great wisdom and an answer to his prayer for help in leading the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 3).
3. (17-18) Solomon’s sea trading.
Then Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the seacoast, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent him ships by the hand of his servants, and servants who knew the sea. They went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and fifty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon.
a. Then Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the seacoast: This was unusual for an Israelite king because the people of Israel were not known for their accomplishments at sea. Solomon boldly led the people of Israel into new ventures.
i. “‘Ezion Geber and Elath’ were ports at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba that provided a strategic commercial access southward into the Red Sea and beyond.” (Payne)
ii. “Solomon probably bore the expenses, and his friend, the Tyrian king, furnished him with expert sailors; for the Jews, at no period of their history, had any skill in maritime affairs, their navigation being confined to the lakes of their own country, from which they could never acquire any nautical skill.” (Clarke)
b. They went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and fifty talents of gold from there: It is hard to say with certainty where the land of Ophir was. Some suggest it was in southern Arabia or the eastern coast of Africa. This shows the great enterprise and industriousness of Solomon’s administration.
i. “No man knows certainly, to this day, where this Ophir was situated. There were two places of this name; one somewhere in India, beyond the Ganges, and another in Arabia, near the country of the Sabaeans, mentioned by Job 22:24.” (Clarke)
2 Chronicles 7 – The Temple Dedicated
A. Dedication by God and man.
1. (1-3) The temple is dedicated by God with fire from heaven.
When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the Lord’s house. When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying:
“For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever.”
a. Fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices: This is one of the remarkable instances in the Old Testament of God sending fire from heaven to consume a sacrifice. It was a dramatic and visible proof of God’s approval, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
i. “This fire was kept alive till the captivity of Babylon: and after that, it was said to have been miraculously renewed [in the days of the Maccabees].” (Trapp)
b. The priests could not enter the house of the LORD: This repeats the occasion first described in 2 Chronicles 5:14.
c. They bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD: The people responded with a combination of reverence and worship. Their awe-filled praise glorified the goodness and mercy of God.
i. One might think that consuming fire from heaven might make them more aware of the power and judgment of God. Yet the whole situation seems to have made them more aware of the goodness and mercy of God.
d. For He is good, for His mercy endures forever: This familiar refrain is connected with Psalm 136 and Psalm 118, and with 2 Chronicles 5:13. Seeing all they could of God’s great works, they could not help having this strong emphasis on the goodness and mercy of God.
2. (4-5) The temple is dedicated by man with a multitude of sacrifices.
Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD. King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.
a. The king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD: As wonderful as the program and the praise were, they could not replace the sacrifices. God still had to be honored through blood sacrifice, both for atonement and as a demonstration of fellowship with God.
b. King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep: This is a staggering – almost grotesque – amount of sacrifice. Each animal was ritually sacrificed and a portion was dedicated to the LORD, and a portion given to the priests and the people. It was enough to feed a vast multitude for two weeks.
3. (6-10) The days of praise and feasting for the dedication of the temple.
And the priests attended to their services; the Levites also with instruments of the music of the LORD, which King David had made to praise the LORD, saying, “For His mercy endures forever,” whenever David offered praise by their ministry. The priests sounded trumpets opposite them, while all Israel stood. Furthermore Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the LORD; for there he offered burnt offerings and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the fat. At that time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt. And on the eighth day they held a sacred assembly, for they observed the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the good that the LORD had done for David, for Solomon, and for His people Israel.
a. The priests attended to their services; the Levites also with instruments of the music of the LORD: On such a great occasion everyone must be about their work. The priests had so many sacrifices to administer that they specially consecrated the area in front of the temple to receive sacrifices because the bronze altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings.
b. At that time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him: From the time of year and the length of this feast, we understand that this was the Feast of Tabernacles, extended beyond its normal seven days on this special occasion.
i. “Their unity is expressed in geographical terms as well as by a unity of spirit – Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt indicates the widest possible extent of Israel’s occupation of the Promised Land.” (Selman)
c. For the good that the LORD had done for David, for Solomon, and for His people Israel: This account of the dedication of the temple ends where the story of the temple began – with David, not Solomon. The writer remembers that it was David’s heart and vision that started the work of the temple.
4. (11) Conclusion: the work successfully accomplished.
Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house; and Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart to make in the house of the LORD and in his own house.
a. Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house: 1 Kings 7 goes into more detail about Solomon’s palace. It seems that his palace was even more spectacular than the temple, based on the number of years it took him to build it.
b. Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart: It was the end of a well-done job, a job that began with Solomon’s father David.
B. God appears to Solomon again.
1. (12-16) The assurance of answered prayer from the temple.
Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”
a. The LORD appeared to Solomon by night: This was actually the second great appearance of God to Solomon (1 Kings 9:1-2). The first is described in 1 Kings 3:5-9. It was good of God to appear to Solomon the first time; it was even better of God to grant a unique appearance to Solomon the second time.
i. “Brethren, we want renewed appearances, fresh manifestations, new visitations from on high; and I commend to those of you who are getting on in life, that while you thank God for the past, and look back with joy to his visits to you in your early days, you now seek and ask for a second visitation of the Most High.” (Spurgeon)
ii. After Solomon built the temple and his palace he came to the most dangerous period of his life – a season after great blessing and accomplishment. God graciously gave Solomon a fresh revelation of Himself before this dangerous period.
iii. “The words speak to us also. No height attained, no work done, no blessing received, is in itself sufficient to ensure our continuance in favour. Nothing but continued fidelity can do that.” (Morgan)
b. I have heard your prayer: The great prayer of Solomon in 1 Kings 8 meant nothing unless God heard the prayer. The true measure of our prayer is if God in heaven answers the prayer.
i. This answer seems to have come many years after the actual dedication of the temple. Yet God also gave Solomon an immediate answer of approval at the time of dedication, when the sacrifices were consumed with fire from heaven (2 Chronicles 7:1-7).
c. Have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice: The building was Solomon’s work, done in the power and inspiration of the LORD. The consecration of the building was God’s work. Solomon could build a building, but only God could hallow it with His presence.
i. “It is to be a house of prayer and a (literal) ‘house of sacrifice’…. This combination of the temple’s functions is striking, and is one of the several indications in 2 Chronicles 5-7 that prayer and sacrifice are to be understood as ‘two sides of the same coin.’” (Selman)
ii. “By presenting the temple as a place where right sacrifice and prayer could be accepted, an opening was being provided to exchange Israel’s present bleak circumstances for a more positive future. It offered an opportunity to change the course of Israel’s history.” (Selman)
d. If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face: This wonderful promise is in the context of God’s promise to answer prayer from the temple which He chose to hallow with His presence. God promised something special to Israel when they did humble themselves and did pray and seek God’s face.
i. There is something naturally humble in true prayer because it recognizes that the answers are not in self and they are in God. God promises something special to humble, praying people.
ii. The phrase My people who are called by My name had its first application to the people of Israel as they lived in the land God promised them. Nevertheless, the same God who made this promise to Israel still reigns in the heavens and will still respond to His humble praying people today.
iii. “Although God’s invitation is initially given to my people (2 Chronicles 7:14), 2 Chronicles 6:32-33 has made clear that anyone who acknowledges God’s name and authority may pray with the same confidence of a hearing. This passage is therefore consistent with others where the invitation is explicitly extended to ‘all who call upon the name of the LORD.’” (Selman)
e. And turn from their wicked ways: This great promise of answered prayer in 2 Chronicles 7:14 also includes the condition of repentance. As the people of God humble themselves, pray and seek the face of God, they must also turn from their wicked ways. It wasn’t enough to merely turn their hearts to God; they must also turn their lives to God.
f. Then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land: God simply promises to hear the prayer of His humble, prayerful, seeking, repentant people. He will bring forgiveness to His people and healing to their land.
i. “These expressions are best understood as four facets of one attitude, that sinners should seek God himself in humble repentance, rather than four separate steps on a long road to forgiveness.” (Selman)
· We can see what it means to humble one’s self by looking at Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 12:6, 7, and 12), Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:26), and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:12, 19, and 23).
· We can see what it means to pray by looking at Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:18 and 32:20) and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:13).
· We can see what it means to seek by looking at the returning priests and the faithful (2 Chronicles 11:13-16) and Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).
· We can see what it means to turn by looking at Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:6 and 30:9)
ii. “Healing throughout the Old Testament has a mixture of spiritual and physical applications. Sometimes healing is specifically equated with forgiveness (e.g. Hosea 14:4; Isaiah 53:5, 57:18-19; Psalm 41:4); at other times it relates to physical healing (e.g. Genesis 20:17; Numbers 12:13; 2 Kings 20:5, 8). When it is applied to the land, as here, it can refer to bringing the exiles back to the Promised Land (Jeremiah 30:17; 33:6-7) or restoring the land and its people to peace and security (Jeremiah 33:6; Isaiah 57:19).” (Selman)
g. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place: God promised to pay special attention to the prayers offered from the temple which Solomon, the son of David built. We can be much more confident of His attention to our prayers when we offer them in the name of Jesus, the Son of David. He is better access to God than even the temple was.
h. My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually: “The idea of God having a heart is extremely rare in the Bible, and the only other explicit reference speaks of God suffering heart pains because of the evil of humanity (Genesis 6:6; cf. also Genesis 8:21; 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22)…. It is hard to think of a more intimate way to indicate God’s nearness, or a greater encouragement to prayer.” (Selman)
2. (17-22) God’s warning to Solomon.
“As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel.’ But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and this house?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this calamity on them.’”
a. If you walk before Me as your father David walked…then I will establish the throne of your kingdom: God’s answer to Solomon’s previous prayer had a great condition. If Solomon walked before God in obedience and faithfulness, he could expect blessing on his reign and the reign of his descendants, and the dynasty of David would endure forever.
i. God did not demand perfect obedience from Solomon. David certainly did not walk perfectly before the LORD, and God told Solomon to walk before Me as your father David walked. This was not out of reach for Solomon.
b. But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments…then I will uproot them: The positive promise is followed by a negative promise. If Solomon or his descendants turn away and forsake God and His word, then God promised to correct a disobedient Israel.
c. And this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight: God’s answer to Solomon’s prayer was not an unqualified promise to bless the temple in any circumstance. God blessed the temple and filled it with the glory of His presence, but He would cast it out of His sight if the kings of Israel forsook the LORD.
i. With such a glorious temple, Israel would be tempted to forsake the God of the temple and make an idol of the temple of God. Here the LORD made them know that He could never bless this error.
d. Will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.… everyone who passes by it will be astonished: Under the Old Covenant, God promised to use Israel to exalt Himself among the nations one way or another. If Israel obeyed, He would bless them so much that others had to recognize the hand of God upon Israel. If Israel disobeyed, He would chastise them so severely that the nations would be astonished at the judgment of God among His disobedient people, and they would know that the LORD has brought all this calamity on them.
i. “The manner in which these disobedient people have been destroyed is truly astonishing: no nation was every so highly favoured, and none ever so severely and signally punished.” (Clarke)
2 Chronicles 6 – Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication
A. Solomon blesses God.
1. (1-2) Acknowledgement of God’s presence in the cloud.
Then Solomon spoke:
“The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud.
I have surely built You an exalted house,
And a place for You to dwell in forever.”
a. The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud: The cloud of God’s glory has a long association with His presence.
b. I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever: Solomon rightly sensed that the presence of the cloud meant that God dwelt in the temple in a special way. As long as this did not slip into a superstitious misunderstanding, it was good to recognize a special place to come and meet with God.
i. “Though only Jesus is God incarnate, the temple was a clear sign that God in all his being was committed to living among his people.” (Selman)
2. (3-9) Solomon blesses the people and blesses God.
Then the king turned around and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. And he said: “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David, saying, ‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there; and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’ Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a temple for the name of the LORD God of Israel. But the LORD said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well in that it was in your heart. Nevertheless you shall not build the temple, but your son who will come from your body, he shall build the temple for My name.’”
a. Who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David: Solomon recognized that the temple was the fulfillment of God’s plan, not David’s or Solomon’s. David and Solomon were human instruments, but the work was God’s.
i. “The mention of God’s hands (lit. ‘fulfilled with his hands’) really means that God’s actions have confirmed his words – it is as if God’s unseen hands were active in all the human hands who contributed to the construction work (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:16).” (Selman)
b. Out of the land of Egypt: Solomon presses the remembrance of the Exodus. Though it happened 500 years before, it was just as important and real for Israel as the day it happened.
c. Nevertheless you shall not build the temple: Though Solomon built the temple and not David, we are reminded of the extensive preparations David made for the temple. David prepared for the temple in every way he could short of actually building it, and he was happy for the credit and honor for building it to go to his son Solomon.
i. “It confirms that David’s disqualification was not due to sin, but because the concept of God’s rest must be regarded as the unique and final stage in building the temple.” (Selman)
3. (10-11) Solomon presents the finished temple to God.
“So the LORD has fulfilled His word which He spoke, and I have filled the position of my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised; and I have built the temple for the name of the LORD God of Israel. And there I have put the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD which He made with the children of Israel.”
a. I have filled the position of my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised: Solomon recognized that his succession of David on the throne of Israel was a significant thing. He was the first king to follow his father as a hereditary monarch.
b. There I have put the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD: The chief glory of the temple was that it was the resting place for the ark of the covenant, a representation of God’s covenantal presence with His people.
B. Solomon’s prayer.
1. (12-14) Humility before, and praise to, God.
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands (for Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt down on his knees before all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven); and he said: “LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.
a. Stood before the altar of the LORD: Solomon did not dedicate the temple from within the temple. It would be inappropriate for him to do so because he was a king and not a priest. The holy place and Most Holy Place were only for chosen descendants of the High Priest.
b. And spread out his hands: This was the most common posture of prayer in the Old Testament. Many modern people close their eyes, bow their heads, and fold their hands as they pray, but the Old Testament tradition was to spread out the hands toward heaven in a gesture of surrender, openness, and ready reception.
i. “It is worthy of remark concerning this prayer that it is as full and comprehensive as if it were meant to be the summary of all future prayers offered in the temple.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “One is struck, moreover, with the fact that the language is far from new, and is full of quotations from the Pentateuch, some of which are almost word for word, while the sense of the whole may be found in those memorable passages in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.” (Spurgeon)
c. There is no God in heaven or on earth like You: Solomon recognized that God was completely unique. The pretended gods of the nations could not compare to Him in any way.
2. (15-17) Solomon recognizes God as the maker and keeper of promises.
“You have kept what You promised Your servant David my father; You have both spoken with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day.Therefore, LORD God of Israel, now keep what You promised Your servant David my father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man sit before Me on the throne of Israel, only if your sons take heed to their way, that they walk in My law as you have walked before Me.’ And now, O LORD God of Israel, let Your word come true, which You have spoken to Your servant David.”
a. You have kept what You promised: Solomon first thanked and praised God for His past fulfillment of promises.
b. Now keep what You promised Your servant David.… let Your word come true: Solomon called upon God to keep the promises that He made. This is the great secret to power in prayer – to take God’s promises to heart in faith, and then boldly and reverently call upon Him to fulfill the promises.
i. “God sent the promise on purpose to be used. If I see a Bank of England note, it is a promise for a certain amount of money, and I take it and use it. But oh my friend, do try and use God’s promises; nothing pleases God better than to see his promises put in circulation; he loves to see his children bring them up to him, and say, ‘LORD, do as thou hast said.’ And let me tell you that it glorifies God to use his promises.” (Spurgeon)
ii. This kind of prayer lays hold of God’s promise. Just because God promises does not mean that we possess. Through believing prayer like this, God promises and we appropriate. If we don’t appropriate in faith, God’s promise is left unclaimed.
3. (18-21) Solomon asks God to dwell in this place and honor those who seek Him here.
“But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O LORD my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple day and night, toward the place where You said You would put Your name, that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. And may You hear the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive.”
a. How much less this temple which I have built! We are glad that Solomon said this. From prior statements, such as his statement in 2 Chronicles 6:1-2, we might have thought that Solomon drifted towards a superstitious idea that God actually lived in the temple to the exclusion of other places. It was important to recognize that though God had a special presence in the temple, He was far too great to be restricted to the temple.
b. May You hear the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place: Solomon asked God to incline His ear towards the king and the people when they prayed from the temple. For this reason, many observant Jews still pray facing the direction of the site of the temple in Jerusalem.
c. When You hear, forgive: Solomon knew that the most important thing Israel needed was forgiveness. This was the greatest answer to prayer Israel could expect from God.
4. (22-23) Hear when Your people take an oath at the temple.
“If anyone sins against his neighbor, and is forced to take an oath, and comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this temple, then hear from heaven, and act, and judge Your servants, bringing retribution on the wicked by bringing his way on his own head, and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.”
a. And comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this temple: The temple grounds were used as a place to verify and authorize oaths. When a dispute came down to one word against another, Solomon asked that the temple would be a place to properly swear by.
b. Hear from heaven, and act, and judge Your servants: Solomon asked the God who can see what man can’t – who knows the hidden heart of man – to enforce from heaven the oaths made at the temple.
i. The old Puritan commentator John Trapp could not resist mentioning a fulfillment of this principle in his own day: “Anne Averies, who, forswearing herself, a. D. 1575, February 11, at a shop of Wood Street in London, praying God she might sink where she stood if she had not paid for the wares she took, fell down presently speechless, and with horrible stink died.”
5. (24-25) Hear when Your people are defeated.
“Or if Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and return and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to them and their fathers.”
a. If Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy: Many times in their history, Israel suffered defeat and could only cry out to God. It was even worse when the defeat was because they had sinned against the LORD Himself.
b. Return and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this temple, then hear from heaven: Solomon asked God to hear the prayers of a defeated, yet humble and penitent Israel. God answered this prayer of Solomon, and He forgave and restored His defeated people when they came in humble repentance.
6. (26-31) Hear in times of plague and famine.
“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance. When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men), that they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.”
a. When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain: Drought was a constant threat for the agriculturally based economy of Israel. If there was no rain, there was no food.
b. When they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, then hear in heaven: Solomon doesn’t take it for granted that God would forgive and hear His repentant people. God’s good response to our repentance comes from His grace, not from justice.
i. “It is not therefore to be wondered at that, when Solomon dedicated to the Lord the temple which he had built, his great petition was that God would hear every prayer that should be uttered in that place or toward that place. He wished the temple always to be to Israel the token that God’s memorial is that he hears prayer.” (Spurgeon)
7. (32-33) Hear when a foreigner prays.
“Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this temple; then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.”
a. Moreover, concerning a foreigner: The temple was in Israel but it was always intended to be a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:7). God wanted the court of the Gentiles to be a place where the nations could come and pray.
i. The violation of this principle made Jesus angry. When He came to the temple and found the outer courts – the only place where the Gentile nations could come and pray – more like a swap meet than a house of prayer, He drove out the moneychangers and the merchants (Matthew 21:13).
b. Hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You: Solomon asked God to hear the prayer of the foreigner out of a missionary impulse. He knew that when God mercifully answered the prayers of foreigners, it drew those from other nations to the God of all nations.
i. “What is especially notable is that foreigners could know and fear God ‘like your people Israel.’ This hope of equality in worship was rarely expressed in the Old Testament (e.g. Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 19:24-25; Zechariah 8:20-22), and even Jesus’ closest disciples found its fulfillment hard to take (Acts 10:1-11:18).” (Selman)
8. (34-39) Hear when Israel goes out to battle and prays from captivity.
“When Your people go out to battle against their enemies, wherever You send them, and when they pray to You toward this city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name, then hear from heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to a land far or near; yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, and have committed wickedness’; and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been carried captive, and pray toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and toward the temple which I have built for Your name: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You.”
a. When Your people go out to battle against their enemies, wherever You send them: Solomon prayed with the idea that God should answer the prayers for victory made in foreign lands towards the temple, but only when they battle as God sent them. This was not a blanket request for blessing on every military adventure.
b. When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin): This is a succinct Old Testament statement of the principle most clearly stated in Romans 3:23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
i. “The sense that sin is all-pervading dominates, epitomised in one of the clearest biblical statements about sin’s universality (there is no one who does not sin, 2 Chronicles 6:36). No greater indication of the need for a place of atonement and forgiveness could be given.” (Selman)
c. When they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive: Solomon also asked God to hear Israel’s prayer from captivity in a foreign land. This recognized that the God of the temple could answer prayers made away from the temple.
9. (40-42) Conclusion to the prayer.
“Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place.
Arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place,
You and the ark of Your strength.
Let Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation,
And let Your saints rejoice in goodness.
O LORD God, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed;
Remember the mercies of Your servant David.”
a. Arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength: This conclusion of prayer has Numbers 10:35-36 in mind, when Israel moved the ark of the covenant, the tabernacle, and the whole camp of Israel from place to place through the wilderness during the exodus. Solomon used the phrasing of that passage to emphasize that the ark of the covenant and the symbol of God’s presence would wander no more and had finally come to its final resting place.
b. Do not turn away the face of Your Anointed: Solomon probably meant this in reference to himself because he was the anointed king of Israel. Nevertheless, it also reminds us of the principle in prayer of praying in the name of Jesus, the ultimate Anointed One.
i. “In his prayer ‘do not reject your anointed one,’ the king now meant himself, though in subsequent usage it would express Israel’s hope in the coming Messiah.” (Payne)
2 Chronicles 5 – The Ark is brought to the Temple
A. The finished temple.
1. (1) Completion of the work.
So all the work that Solomon had done for the house of the LORD was finished; and Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: the silver and the gold and all the furnishings. And he put them in the treasuries of the house of God.
a. All the work that Solomon had done for the house of the LORD was finished: This was the great achievement of Solomon’s life. He began this ambitious project shortly after he came to the throne, and now it was finished, certainly much to his satisfaction.
b. Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: This reminds us of just how much David did for the temple. He even designed, made, and dedicated some of the furnishings of the temple.
2. (2-5) The furniture of the temple is brought in before the assembled nation.
Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, in Jerusalem, that they might bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD up from the City of David, which is Zion. Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with the king at the feast, which was in the seventh month. So all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. Then they brought up the ark, the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up.
a. Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes: The official installation of the ark of the covenant into the temple was an extremely important occasion. Solomon wanted representatives of the entire kingdom to have a part in this memorable event.
b. The priests and the Levites brought them up: This properly respected the pattern designated by the Mosaic Law. Solomon wanted representatives of the entire kingdom to witness the event, but not at the expense of obedience to God’s command.
3. (6-10) The ark comes into the Most Holy Place of the temple.
Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him before the ark, were sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude. Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. And the poles extended so that the ends of the poles of the ark could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt.
a. Sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude: Solomon went “over-the-top” in his effort to honor and praise God on this great day.
b. Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD: The temple wasn’t “open” until the ark of the covenant was set in the Most Holy Place. The ark was the most important item in the temple.
c. Under the wings of the cherubim: The interior of the temple was richly decorated with the designs of cherubim, which surround the throne of God in heaven. This design of the temple was after the pattern of the tabernacle, which had woven designs of cherubim on the inner covering.
i. “The statement that ‘they are still there today’ must have been quoted by Ezra from his sources (2 Chronicles 9:29), particularly from 1 Kings 8:8, out of those portions that were written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The ark had been gone for over a century by Ezra’s day.” (Payne)
d. Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb: At an earlier point in Israel’s history there were three items in the ark of the covenant. Earlier, inside the ark were the golden pot that had the manna (Exodus 16:33), Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:6-11), and the tablets of the covenant (Exodus 25:16). We don’t know what happened to the golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod, but they were not in the ark when Solomon set it in the Most Holy Place.
e. When the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt: The reminder of the deliverance from Egypt is significant because there is a sense in which this – some 500 years after the Exodus – is the culmination of the deliverance from Egypt. Israel came out of Egypt and into the wilderness, and out of necessity, lived in tents – and the dwelling of God was also a tent. Now since Solomon built the temple, the dwelling of God among Israel was a building, a place of permanence and security.
B. The glory of God fills the temple.
1. (11-12) The praise of the Levites at the installation of the ark of the covenant.
And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets;
a. For all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions: Normally the priests and Levites worked at the temple according to a strict schedule. Yet on this day, all the priests and Levites were on duty before the LORD.
b. And the Levites who were the singers: It was right that on this day praise should be focused on the LORD, and not on Solomon or David. In reality, this was the LORD’s house, not David’s or Solomon’s.
2. (13-14) The cloud of God’s glory fills the temple.
Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying:
“For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,”
that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
a. That the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud: This was the cloud of glory, seen often in the Old and New Testaments, sometimes called the cloud of Shekinah glory. It is hard to define the glory of God; we could call it the radiant outshining of His character and presence. Here it is manifested in a cloud.
· This is the cloud that stood by Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22).
· This is the cloud of glory that God spoke to Israel from (Exodus 16:10).
· This is the cloud from which God met with Moses and others (Exodus 19:9, 24:15-18, Numbers 11:25, 12:5, 16:42).
· This is the cloud that stood by the door of the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:9-10).
· This is the cloud from which God appeared to the High Priest in the Holy Place inside the veil (Leviticus 16:2).
· This is the cloud of Ezekiel’s vision, filling the temple of God with the brightness of His glory (Ezekiel 10:4).
· This is the cloud of glory that overshadowed Mary when she conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).
· This is the cloud present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:34-35).
· This is the cloud of glory that received Jesus into heaven at His ascension (Acts 1:9).
· This is the cloud that will display the glory of Jesus Christ when He returns in triumph to this earth (Luke 21:27, Revelation 1:7).
i. It is worthy of note that this great outpouring of the glory of God came in the context of intense and dedicated praise. God pours out His glory when His people praise Him. “We can never expect to have God in this house, or in our own houses, or in our own hearts, until we begin to praise him. Unless as a people we unanimously, with one heart, though with many tongues, extol the King of kings, farewell to the hope that he will give us his presence in the future.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “There is an order in this work which we do well to consider. Work performed according to the divine order, offered in sacrifice and praise, is acceptable to God. Such work He receives by possessing it with His own presence and glory.” (Morgan)
b. So that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud: The extreme presence of the glory of God made normal service impossible. The sense of the presence of God was so intense that the priests felt it was impossible to continue in the building.
i. “As soon as the temple is opened for business, all the carefully planned ceremonies and services have to be suspended because God takes over the entire building for himself. The temple is to be for God’s glory, not for that of human beings.” (Selman)
ii. Jesus Himself was greater than the cloud that filled the temple and when He came it was fitting for the priests’ temple service to stop. “This showed that the Levitical ministry should cease when the Lord Christ came.” (Trapp)
iii. “The glory of God had filled the house, and the priests were set aside. Where God is, man is forgotten. You will think little of the minister save for his work’s sake – you will talk the less of the man when you shall see the Master.” (Spurgeon)
2 Chronicles 4 – Furnishings for the Temple and Its Court
A. The furnishings of the temple.
1. (1) The bronze altar.
Moreover he made a bronze altar: twenty cubits was its length, twenty cubits its width, and ten cubits its height.
a. He made a bronze altar: The idea behind the Hebrew word for altar is essentially, “killing-place.” This was the place of sacrifice, the center for worship and service for the priests and the people.
i. “Just as in the tabernacle, the altar was the first main object to be met as one entered the sanctuary court. It demonstrates that God may be approached only through sacrifices.” (Payne)
ii. We also have an altar: We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat (Hebrews 13:10). Our altar – our “killing-place” – is the cross, where Jesus died for our sins and we follow by dying to self and living for Jesus.
b. Twenty cubits: Essentially, this altar was large (about 30 feet or 10 meters square) and about twice as large as the altar originally built for the tabernacle (Exodus 27:1-2).
c. Ten cubits its height: The altar was raised significantly. The altar was set up high, “That all the people might see the burnt-offerings, and be reminded of their sins and of their Saviour; for the ceremonial law was their gospel.” (Trapp)
2. (2-6) The washing basins for the temple.
Then he made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was completely round. Its height was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference. And under it was the likeness of oxen encircling it all around, ten to a cubit, all the way around the Sea. The oxen were cast in two rows, when it was cast. It stood on twelve oxen: three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; the Sea was set upon them, and all their back parts pointed inward. It was a handbreadth thick; and its brim was shaped like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It contained three thousand baths. He also made ten lavers, and put five on the right side and five on the left, to wash in them; such things as they offered for the burnt offering they would wash in them, but the Sea was for the priests to wash in.
a. Then he made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other: The huge laver was more than 15 feet (5 meters) across, and was used for the ceremonial washings connected with the priests themselves.
i. “Priests who did not wash to make themselves clean would die (Exodus 30:20).” (Selman)
ii. Wiseman explains in his commentary on 1 Kings: “It was used by priests for cleansing their hands and feet and perhaps also to supply water to the standing basins for the rinsing of offerings (2 Chronicles 4:10).” Poole believes that perhaps water came out of the bulls that formed the foundation of the Sea.
b. It stood on twelve oxen: This large pool of water was set upon sculptured oxen. “Prefiguring, say some, the twelve apostles, who carried the water of life all the world over.” (Trapp)
i. It contained three thousand baths: “In 1 Kings 7:26, it is said to hold only two thousand baths. Since this book was written after the Babylonian captivity, it is very possible that reference is here made to the Babylonian bath, which might have been less than the Jewish.” (Clarke)
c. He also made ten lavers: These additional basins were used for washing and cleaning the animal parts in the rituals of sacrifice.
3. (7-8) The lampstands, tables, and bowls.
And he made ten lampstands of gold according to their design, and set them in the temple, five on the right side and five on the left. He also made ten tables, and placed them in the temple, five on the right side and five on the left. And he made one hundred bowls of gold.
a. And he made ten lampstands…. He also made ten tables: The work of the temple required lampstands for light and tables to hold the showbread, the bread that represented the continual fellowship of Israel with God. Notably, the old tabernacle had one lampstand and one table. The temple fittingly displayed a greater light and a greater dynamic of fellowship.
b. And he made one hundred bowls of gold: “The ‘sprinkling bowls’ were not particularly associated with the tables but seem rather to have been used for collecting the blood of sacrifices, which was then sprinkled about the altar in the temple services of atonement.” (Payne)
4. (9-10) The court of the temple.
Furthermore he made the court of the priests, and the great court and doors for the court; and he overlaid these doors with bronze. He set the Sea on the right side, toward the southeast.
a. He made the court of the priests: This was also known as the inner court, the court of the temple open only to the priests.
b. And the great court: This was the outer court, the place in the temple precincts open to the assembly of Israel as a whole.
i. “Yet this very division into two courts (2 Kings 23:12) gave concrete expression to the fact that under the older testament there had not yet been achieved that universal priesthood of the believers that would come about through Jesus Christ. In him all the people of God have direct access to the Father.” (Payne)
B. The work of Huram from Tyre.
1. (11-17) Huram’s furnishings for the temple.
Then Huram made the pots and the shovels and the bowls. So Huram finished doing the work that he was to do for King Solomon for the house of God: the two pillars and the bowl-shaped capitals that were on top of the two pillars; the two networks covering the two bowl-shaped capitals which were on top of the pillars; four hundred pomegranates for the two networks (two rows of pomegranates for each network, to cover the two bowl-shaped capitals that were on the pillars); he also made carts and the lavers on the carts; one Sea and twelve oxen under it; also the pots, the shovels, the forks; and all their articles Huram his master craftsman made of burnished bronze for King Solomon for the house of the LORD. In the plain of Jordan the king had them cast in clay molds, between Succoth and Zeredah.
a. Then Huram made: Huram was half Israeli and half Gentile, and he was the best craftsman around. Solomon hired him to do all his work – that is, the fine artistic work of the temple.
b. The pots and the shovels and the bowls: These articles were of special note for the Chronicler, because these were some of the only articles that were recovered and used from the first temple period into the days of the Chronicler.
i. “The emphasis on the temple vessels, as well as the association between Tent and temple, underlines the continuity represented by the temple. The return of the temple vessels to the second temple was one of the chief signs that post-exilic Israel remained a worshipping community of covenant people (cf. Ezra 1:7-11; 6:5; 8:24-34).” (Selman)
2. (18-22) Summary of the furnishings for the temple.
And Solomon had all these articles made in such great abundance that the weight of the bronze was not determined. Thus Solomon had all the furnishings made for the house of God: the altar of gold and the tables on which was the showbread; the lampstands with their lamps of pure gold, to burn in the prescribed manner in front of the inner sanctuary, with the flowers and the lamps and the wick-trimmers of gold, of purest gold; the trimmers, the bowls, the ladles, and the censers of pure gold. As for the entry of the sanctuary, its inner doors to the Most Holy Place, and the doors of the main hall of the temple, were gold.
a. Such great abundance that the weight of the bronze was not determined: “The weight could not be found out. This was as it should be. There was no attempt to keep an accurate account of what was given to the service of God. Even Solomon’s left hand did not know what his right hand did. There is a tendency in all of us to keep a strict account of what we give to God…but the loftiest form of devotion overleaps such calculation.” (Meyer)
b. With the flowers and the lamps: “The symbolism of flora and fauna in the temple may either indicate God’s sovereignty over the created order or be another allusion to the harmony of all created things in God’s presence as in the Garden of Eden.” (Selman)
2 Chronicles 3 – The Building of the Temple
A. Where and when the temple construction began.
1. (1) The location of the temple.
Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
a. Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah: This place had been previously identified as the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. Here it is specifically located as Mount Moriah. This was the same hill where Abraham offered Isaac (Genesis 22:2), and the same set of hills where Jesus would later die on the cross (Genesis 22:14).
i. “Where Isaac, as a type of Christ, bore the wood, obeyed his father, and should have been sacrificed. Calvary, where our Saviour suffered, was either a part of this mount, or very near unto it.” (Trapp)
b. Began to build the house of the LORD: This was when the actual construction began. All David’s prior plans and preparations anticipated the actual beginning of the work. One can plan and prepare endlessly and never begin to build, but Solomon began to build the house of the LORD.
2. (2) When the construction began.
And he began to build on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign.
a. On the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign: This was probably in the year 967 B.C. Connecting this with 1 Kings 6:1, this marking point shows just how long Israel lived in the Promised Land without a temple. The tabernacle served the nation well for more than 400 years. The prompting to build the temple was more at the direction and will of God than out of absolute necessity.
b. In the fourth year of his reign: This doesn’t mean that Solomon delayed his obedience for four years. He probably started to organize the work right away. There is some evidence that it took three years to prepare timber from Lebanon for use in building. If Solomon began the construction of the temple in the fourth year of his reign, he probably started organizing the construction in the very first year of his reign.
B. A Description of the temple.
1. (3-7) The building in general.
This is the foundation which Solomon laid for building the house of God: The length was sixty cubits (by cubits according to the former measure) and the width twenty cubits. And the vestibule that was in front of the sanctuary was twenty cubits long across the width of the house, and the height was one hundred and twenty. He overlaid the inside with pure gold. The larger room he paneled with cypress which he overlaid with fine gold, and he carved palm trees and chainwork on it. And he decorated the house with precious stones for beauty, and the gold was gold from Parvaim. He also overlaid the house; the beams and doorposts, its walls and doors; with gold; and he carved cherubim on the walls.
a. For building the house of God: This chapter will describe the building of the temple and its associated areas. There are four main structures described.
· The temple proper (the foundation which Solomon laid), divided into two rooms (the holy place and the Most Holy Place).
· The vestibule or entrance hall on the east side of the temple proper (the vestibule that was in front of the sanctuary). It was thirty feet (10 meters) wide and fifteen feet (5 meters) deep, and the same height as the temple proper. “Its height measurement should read twenty cubits high (NIV, REB, NEB), as against a literal translation of MT, ‘and its height 120’.” (Selman)
· The three-storied side chambers (described in 1 Kings 6:5) which surrounded the temple proper on the north, south, and west sides.
· A large courtyard surrounding the whole structure (the inner court mentioned in 1 Kings 6:36).
b. He decorated the house with precious stones for beauty: This is one description among many that give us an idea of how beautiful the temple was and how Solomon spared no expense in making it beautiful.
i. “The reference to ‘precious stones’ may suggest mosaics, inlaid in the floor.” (Payne)
c. He carved cherubim on the walls: This was after the pattern of the tabernacle, which had woven designs of cherubim on the inner covering. Therefore when one entered the temple they saw cherubim all around – as one would see in heaven (Psalm 80:1, Isaiah 37:16, and Ezekiel 10:3). These angelic beings worship God perpetually in heaven.
i. One might say that we don’t worship angels but we do worship with them.
2. (8-14) The Most Holy Place.
And he made the Most Holy Place. Its length was according to the width of the house, twenty cubits, and its width twenty cubits. He overlaid it with six hundred talents of fine gold. The weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold; and he overlaid the upper area with gold. In the Most Holy Place he made two cherubim, fashioned by carving, and overlaid them with gold. The wings of the cherubim were twenty cubits in overall length: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, touching the wall of the room, and the other wing was five cubits, touching the wing of the other cherub; one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, touching the wall of the room, and the other wing also was five cubits, touching the wing of the other cherub. The wings of these cherubim spanned twenty cubits overall. They stood on their feet, and they faced inward. And he made the veil of blue, purple, crimson, and fine linen, and wove cherubim into it.
a. And he made the Most Holy Place: Special attention was given to the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place. It was a 30-foot (10 meter) cube, completely overlaid with gold. It also had two large sculptures of cherubim (15-foot or 5 meters in height), which were overlaid with gold.
b. He overlaid it with six hundred talents of fine gold: There was gold everywhere in the temple, but especially in the Most Holy Place. The walls were covered with gold (1 Kings 6:20-22), the floor was covered with gold (1 Kings 6:30) and gold was hammered into the carvings on the doors (1 Kings 6:32).
i. There was gold everywhere on the inside of the temple. “Such was Christ’s inside (Colossians 2:9); in his outside was no such desirable beauty (Isaiah 53:2); so the Church’s glory is inward (Psalm 45:13), in the hidden man of the heart (1 Peter 3:4).” (Trapp)
c. Two cherubim, fashioned by carving, and overlaid them with gold: These two large sculptures inside the Most Holy Place faced the entrance to this inner room, so as soon as the High Priest entered he saw these giant guardians of the presence of God facing him.
i. “If it were image work – cherubims were made like boys – yet this is no plea for Popish images; since they are flatly forbidden; and God made the law for us, not for himself.” (Trapp)
d. And he made the veil: This was the important barrier separating the holy place from the Most Holy Place. Only one man, once a year, could go behind the veil and enter the Most Holy Place.
i. “To most Israelites, therefore, the temple was an unseen world. God had drawn near to them, but the way to him was hedged around with many restrictions.” (Selman)
ii. Spiritually speaking, in dying for our sins Jesus with His own blood…entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).
iii. In the temple, this veil was torn from top to bottom at the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:51), showing that through His death, there is no longer a barrier to the Most Holy place.
iv. Now the Most Holy Place is open to us: brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh (Hebrews 10:19-20). The torn veil of Matthew 27:51 also symbolizes the broken body of Jesus, through which we have access to the Most Holy Place.
3. (15-17) The pillars of the temple.
Also he made in front of the temple two pillars thirty-five cubits high, and the capital that was on the top of each of them was five cubits. He made wreaths of chainwork, as in the inner sanctuary, and put them on top of the pillars; and he made one hundred pomegranates, and put them on the wreaths of chainwork. Then he set up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand and the other on the left; he called the name of the one on the right hand Jachin, and the name of the one on the left Boaz.
a. In front of the temple two pillars thirty-five cubits high: 1 Kings 7:15 tells us that these pillars were actually made of bronze. They were two very impressive adornments to the front of the temple.
b. He called the name of the one on the right hand Jachin, and the name of the one on the left Boaz: These two pillars were so impressive that they were actually given names. Jachin means He shall establish and Boaz means in strength.
i. Every time someone came to the house of the LORD in the days of Solomon they said, “Look! There is ‘He Shall Establish.’ And there is ‘In Him Is Strength.’” It set them in the right frame of mind to worship the LORD. When the crowds gathered at the morning and evening sacrifice to worship the LORD, the Levites led the people standing in front of the temple with these two great, bronze pillars behind them. It was always before them: He Shall Establish and In Him Is Strength.
ii. One could say that the house of God itself was Jachin and Boaz. That temple was established by God, and built by the strength of God. Every time they looked at that temple, they knew that God liked to establish and strengthen things.
iii. The house of God was a place where people experienced what the pillars were all about. At that house, people were established in their relationship with God. At that house, people were given strength from the LORD. From this building, it should go out to the whole community: “Come here and get established. Come here and receive the strength of God.”
2 Chronicles 2 – Supplies and Workers for the Temple
A. An overview of the work of building the temple.
1. (1) Solomon’s determination to build the temple.
Then Solomon determined to build a temple for the name of the LORD, and a royal house for himself.
a. Then Solomon determined to build a temple: His determination was fitting because of all that his father David did to prepare for the building and because of the charge David gave him to do the work.
i. We might think that the greatest thing about Solomon was his wisdom, his riches, his proverbs or his writings. Clearly, for the Chronicler the most important thing about Solomon was the temple he built. This was most important because it was most relevant to a community of returning exiles who struggled to build a new temple and to make a place for Israel among the nations again.
ii. “Chronicles’ record of Solomon’s achievements moves straight away to the construction of the temple. Several important items in the account of his reign in Kings are left out as a result, such as his wisdom in action, administration, educational reforms, and some building activities (e.g. 1 Kings 3:16-4:34; 7:1-12). These were not unimportant, but, for Chronicles, they were all subsidiary to the temple.” (Selman)
b. And a royal house for himself: Solomon’s great building works did not end with the temple. He also built a spectacular palace (1 Kings 7:1-12) and more.
2. (2) The magnitude of the work
Solomon selected seventy thousand men to bear burdens, eighty thousand to quarry stone in the mountains, and three thousand six hundred to oversee them.
a. Seventy thousand men to bear burdens, eighty thousand to quarry stone: This seems to describe the number of Canaanite slave laborers that Solomon used.
i. Ginzberg relates some of the legends surrounding the building of the temple. “During the seven years it took to build the Temple, not a single workman died who was employed about it, nor even did a single one fall sick. And as the workmen were sound and robust from first to last, so the perfection of their tools remained unimpaired until the building stood complete. Thus the work suffered no sort of interruption.” (Ginzberg)
b. And three thousand six hundred to oversee them: This was the middle management team administrating the work of building the temple.
i. “The number of thirty-six hundred foremen differs from 1 Kings 5:16 (3,300), but the LXX of Kings is quite insecure here, and Chronicles may preserve the better reading.” (Selman)
B. Solomon’s correspondence with Hiram king of Tyre.
1. (3-6) Solomon describes the work to Hiram.
Then Solomon sent to Hiram king of Tyre, saying: As you have dealt with David my father, and sent him cedars to build himself a house to dwell in, so deal with me. Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, for the continual showbread, for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, on the New Moons, and on the set feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance forever to Israel. And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him?
a. Solomon sent to Hiram king of Tyre, saying: As you have dealt with David my father: Solomon appealed to Hiram based on his prior good relationship with his father David. This shows us that David did not regard every neighboring nation as an enemy. David wisely built alliances and friendships with neighboring nations, and the benefit of this also came to Solomon.
i. “Hiram is an abbreviation of Ahiram which means ‘Brother of Ram,’ or ‘My brother is exalted,’ or ‘Brother of the lofty one’…. Archaeologists have discovered a royal sarcophagus in Byblos of Tyre dated about 1200 B.C. inscribed with the king’s name, ‘Ahiram.’ Apparently it belonged to the man in this passage.” (Dilday, commentary on 1 Kings)
b. Then Solomon sent to Hiram: “According to Josephus, copies of such a letter along with Hiram’s reply were preserved in both Hebrew and Tyrian archives and were extant in his day (Antiquities, 8.2.8).” (Dilday)
c. I am building a temple for the name of the LORD my God: Of course, Solomon did not build a temple for a name but for a living God. This is a good example of avoiding the direct mention of the name of God in Hebrew writing and speaking. They did this out of reverence to God.
i. Solomon also used this phrase because he wanted to explain that he didn’t think the temple would be the house of God in the way pagans thought. This is especially shown in his words, who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? By the standards of the paganism of his day, Solomon’s conception of God was both Biblical and high.
ii. “He never conceived it as a place to which God would be confined. He did expect, and he received, manifestations of the Presence of God in that house. Its chief value was that it afforded man a place in which he should offer incense; that is, the symbol of adoration, praise, worship, to God.” (Morgan)
iii. God is, “good without quality, great without quantity, everlasting without time, present everywhere without place, containing all without extent…he is within all things, and contained of nothing: without all things, and sustained of nothing.” (Trapp)
2. (7-10) Solomon’s request to Hiram.
Therefore send me at once a man skillful to work in gold and silver, in bronze and iron, in purple and crimson and blue, who has skill to engrave with the skillful men who are with me in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided. Also send me cedar and cypress and algum logs from Lebanon, for I know that your servants have skill to cut timber in Lebanon; and indeed my servants will be with your servants, to prepare timber for me in abundance, for the temple which I am about to build shall be great and wonderful. And indeed I will give to your servants, the woodsmen who cut timber, twenty thousand kors of ground wheat, twenty thousand kors of barley, twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of oil.
a. Therefore send me at once a man skillful to work in gold and silver: Solomon wanted the temple to be the best it could be, so he used Gentile labor when it was better. This means that Solomon was willing to build this great temple to God with “Gentile” wood and using “Gentile” labor. This was a temple to the God of Israel, but it was not only for Israel.
i. “The leading craftsmen for the Tent, Bezalel and his assistant Oholiab, were both similarly skilled in a range of abilities (cf. Exodus 31:1-6; 35:30-36:2).” (Selman)
ii. “Despite a growing number of ‘skilled craftsmen’ in Israel, their techniques remained inferior to those of their northern neighbors, as is demonstrated archaeologically by less finely cut building stones and by the lower level of Israelite culture in general.” (Payne)
b. To prepare timber for me in abundance: The cedar trees of Lebanon were legendary for their excellent timber. This means Solomon wanted to build the temple out of the best materials possible.
i. “The Sidonians were noted as timber craftsmen in the ancient world, a fact substantiated on the famous Palmero Stone. Its inscription from 2200 B.C. tells us about timber-carrying ships that sailed from Byblos to Egypt about four hundred years previously. The skill of the Sidonians was expressed in their ability to pick the most suitable trees, know the right time to cut them, fell them with care, and then properly treat the logs.” (Dilday)
3. (11-16) Hiram’s response to Solomon.
Then Hiram king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon: Because the LORD loves His people, He has made you king over them. Hiram also said: Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, for He has given King David a wise son, endowed with prudence and understanding, who will build a temple for the LORD and a royal house for himself! And now I have sent a skillful man, endowed with understanding, Huram my master craftsman (the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre), skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, purple and blue, fine linen and crimson, and to make any engraving and to accomplish any plan which may be given to him, with your skillful men and with the skillful men of my lord David your father. Now therefore, the wheat, the barley, the oil, and the wine which my lord has spoken of, let him send to his servants. And we will cut wood from Lebanon, as much as you need; we will bring it to you in rafts by sea to Joppa, and you will carry it up to Jerusalem.
a. Then Hiram king of Tyre answered in writing: “We find…that kings could write and read in what were called by the proud and insolent Greeks and Romans barbarous nations. Nearly two thousand years after this we find a king on the British throne who could not sign his own name.” (Clarke)
b. Blessed be the LORD God of Israel: We can’t say if Hiram was a saved man, but he certainly respected the God of Israel. This was no doubt due to David’s godly influence on Hiram.
c. I have sent a skillful man, endowed with understanding, Huram my master craftsman: King Hiram answered Solomon’s request for a skillful man (2 Chronicles 2:7). Huram had a Jewish mother and a Gentile father.
d. The wheat, the barley, the oil, and the wine which my lord has spoken of, let him send to his servants: Hiram agreed to work for the arrangement suggested by Solomon, though he could have asked for more (1 Kings 5:6).
i. This shows us that Hiram did expect to be paid. His service and the service of his people were not a gift or a sacrifice. “There are a good many people who get mixed up with religious work, and talk as if it were very near their hearts, who have as sharp an eye to their own advantage as he had. The man who serves God because he gets paid for it, does not serve Him.” (Maclaren)
4. (17-18) The laborers who built the temple.
Then Solomon numbered all the aliens who were in the land of Israel, after the census in which David his father had numbered them; and there were found to be one hundred and fifty-three thousand six hundred. And he made seventy thousand of them bearers of burdens, eighty thousand stonecutters in the mountain, and three thousand six hundred overseers to make the people work.
a. All the aliens who were in the land of Israel: This specifically tells us where the seventy thousand man labor force described here and in 2 Chronicles 2:2 came from.
i. “The temple, then, did not become a house of prayer for all nations by accident. The nations even played a part in its construction!” (Selman)
2 Chronicles 1 – Solomon Seeks God
A. Solomon meets God at Gibeon.
1. (1-4) Solomon brings the leaders of Israel to the tabernacle at Gibeon.
Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him and exalted him exceedingly. And Solomon spoke to all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges, and to every leader in all Israel, the heads of the fathers’ houses. Then Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for the tabernacle of meeting with God was there, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness. But David had brought up the ark of God from Kirjath Jearim to the place David had prepared for it, for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.
a. Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him: Solomon made a great start to his reign as king, and God blessed it. His father David left him with almost every possible advantage and his kingdom was strong.
b. Then Solomon…went to the high place that was at Gibeon: Solomon made these special sacrifices at Gibeon because the tabernacle of meeting with God was there. Though the ark of the covenant had been brought to Jerusalem (the place David had prepared for it), the tabernacle itself stayed at Gibeon.
i. Morgan on the phrase, tabernacle of meeting: “That is, it was the place where the people met with God. That is always the idea; not the meeting of the people with each other, but their meeting with God.”
ii. We can track the progress of the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant in the Promised Land:
· Joshua brought both the ark and the tabernacle to Shiloh (Joshua 18).
· In the days of Eli the ark was captured and the tabernacle wrecked (1 Samuel 4, Psalm 78:60-64, Jeremiah 7:12 and 26:9).
· The ark came back to Kirjath Jearim (1 Samuel 7:1-2).
· Saul restored the tabernacle at Nob (1 Samuel 21).
· Saul moved the tabernacle to Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39-40).
· David brought the ark to Jerusalem and built a temporary tent for it (2 Samuel 6:17, 2 Chronicles 1:4).
iii. There are several reasons that could explain why David did not bring the tabernacle from Gibeon to Jerusalem.
· He may have believed if the tabernacle was there the people would be satisfied with that, and they would lose the passion and vision for the temple God wanted built.
· It may be that the tabernacle was only moved when it was absolutely necessary – as when disaster came upon it at Shiloh or Nob.
· It may be that David was simply focused on building the temple, not continuing the tabernacle.
2. (5-6) Solomon and the assembly seek God together.
Now the bronze altar that Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the LORD; Solomon and the assembly sought Him there. And Solomon went up there to the bronze altar before the LORD, which was at the tabernacle of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.
a. Now the bronze altar that Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the LORD: This was the same altar made in the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land (Exodus 38:1-2). This altar was at least 500 years old and had received many sacrifices over Israel’s long history since the Exodus.
b. Solomon and the assembly sought Him there: Solomon and the people of God sought the LORD at the place of atoning sacrifice. This was the Old Testament equivalent to “coming to the cross” in seeking God.
i. This was an important event marking the “ceremonial” beginning of Solomon’s reign. Solomon wanted to demonstrate from the beginning that he would seek God and lead the kingdom to do so.
c. And offered a thousand burnt offerings: This almost grotesque amount of sacrifice demonstrated both Solomon’s great wealth and his heart to use it to glorify God.
3. (7-10) Solomon’s request.
On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?”
a. God appeared to Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5 tells us that this remarkable visitation from God happened in a dream. This is one of the more significant dreams in the Bible.
i. “It is interesting to note that notwithstanding the fact that the ark was not there, God met with Solomon and communed with him.” (Morgan) Here God made it clear that His presence was not to be superstitiously restricted to an association with the ark of the covenant.
b. Ask! What shall I give you? This was an amazing promise. God seemed to offer Solomon whatever he wanted. This wasn’t only because Solomon sacrificed 1,000 animals. It was because his heart was surrendered to God, and God wanted to work something in Solomon through this offer and his response.
i. The natural reaction to reading this promise of God to Solomon is to wish we had such promises. We do have them.
· Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).
· If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you (John 15:7).
· Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14).
ii. “The problem for many Christians, then, is not whether they will receive anything when they ask, but whether they will ask at all.” (Selman)
c. You have shown great mercy: Before responding to God’s offer and asking for something, Solomon remembered God’s faithfulness to both David and now to himself.
d. Now give me wisdom and knowledge: Solomon asked for more than great knowledge; he wanted wisdom, and according to 1 Kings 3, he wanted it in his heart, not merely in his head.
e. That I may go out and come in before this people: This was a Hebrew expression that meant, “That I may fulfill my duties before this people.” Solomon asked for the knowledge and wisdom necessary to be a good king.
i. “Such words referred originally to military leadership (1 Chronicles 11:2; cf. 1 Samuel 18:13) but are here broadened into representing good governmental administratorship in general.” (Payne)
B. God answers Solomon’s request.
1. (11-12) Solomon receives wisdom and blessings from God.
Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life; but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king; wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.”
a. Because this was in your heart: God was pleased by what Solomon asked for, in that he knew his great need for knowledge and wisdom. God was also pleased by what Solomon did not ask for, in that he did not ask for riches or fame or power for himself.
i. Solomon’s request was not bad. We are specifically told in 1 Kings 3:10 that the speech pleased the LORD. Yet we can also ask if this was the best Solomon could ask for. “Was this the highest gift that he could have asked or received? Surely the deep longings of his father for communion with God were yet better.” (Maclaren)
ii. Solomon did his job well – as well or better than anyone. Yet as his falling away in the end showed (1 Kings 11:1-11) there was something lacking in his spiritual life. “There is no sign in his biography that he ever had the deep inward devotion of his father. After the poet-psalmist came the prosaic and keen-sighted shrewd man of affairs.” (Maclaren)
b. Wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor: God not only answered Solomon’s prayer, He answered it beyond all expectation. Solomon did not ask for riches and wealth and honor, but God gave him those also.
i. “God’s answer was a beautiful instance of the overflowing love and grace of the divine heart. All the things Solomon set aside for the sake of wisdom were also given to him.” (Morgan)
ii. Appearing in his dream, God answered Solomon’s prayer and made him wise, powerful, rich, and influential. His reign was glorious for Israel. At the same time, his end was tragic. We can fairly say that Solomon wasted these gifts God gave him. Though he accomplished much, he could have done much more – and his heart was led away from God in the end (1 Kings 11:4-11).
iii. “Instead of being the wisest of men, did he not become more brutish than any man? Did he not even lose the knowledge of his Creator, and worship the abominations of the Moabites, Zidonians, and [so forth]? And was not such idolatry a proof of the grossest stupidity? How few proofs does his life give that the gracious purpose of God was fulfilled in him! He received much; but he would have received much more, had he been faithful to the grace given. No character in the sacred writings disappoints us more than the character of Solomon.” (Clarke, commenting in 1 Kings)
2. (13-17) The great wealth of King Solomon.
So Solomon came to Jerusalem from the high place that was at Gibeon, from before the tabernacle of meeting, and reigned over Israel. And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. Also the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland. And Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh; the king’s merchants bought them in Keveh at the current price. They also acquired and imported from Egypt a chariot for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for one hundred and fifty; thus, through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.
a. So Solomon came to Jerusalem…and reigned over Israel: Solomon actually reigned – or began his reign – in the great wisdom God gave him at Gibeon. A famous example of this wisdom is found in 1 Kings 3:16-28, where he wisely judged between two mothers who each claimed the same baby as their own.
b. And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen: The famous stables of Solomon show what a vast cavalry he assembled for Israel. Unfortunately, it also shows that Solomon did not take God’s word as seriously as he should. In Deuteronomy 17:16, God spoke specifically to the future kings of Israel: But he shall not multiply horses for himself.
c. The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones: When we think of Solomon’s great wealth, we also consider that he originally did not set his heart upon riches. He deliberately asked for wisdom to lead the people of God instead of riches or fame. God promised to also give Solomon riches and fame, and God fulfilled His promise.
i. We also consider that Solomon gave an eloquent testimony to the vanity of riches as the preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He powerfully showed that there was no ultimate satisfaction through materialism. We don’t have to be as rich as Solomon to learn the same lesson.
ii. Certainly, Solomon presided over a prosperous and wealthy kingdom. Yet the Chronicler is also warning us here. He assumes that we know of the instructions for future kings of Israel in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. He assumes we know verse 17 of that passage, which says: nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. God blessed Solomon with great riches, but Solomon allowed that blessing to turn into a danger because he disobediently multiplied silver and gold for himself.
iii. “There was nothing wrong in all this, but it created a very subtle peril. Prosperity is always a more insidious danger to men of faith than adversity.” (Morgan)
d. Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh: At the end of this great description of Solomon’s wealth and splendor, we have the sound of this dark note. This was in direct disobedience to Deuteronomy 17:16, which said to the kings of Israel: But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, “You shall not return that way again.”
i.Keveh (also known as Cilicia) was “in what is now southern Turkey, at the east end of the Mediterranean…a prime ancient supplier of horses.” (Payne)
e. Thus, through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria: This may explain why Solomon broke such an obvious commandment. Perhaps the importation of horses from Egypt began as trading as an agent on behalf of other kings. From this, perhaps Solomon could say, “I’m importing horses from Egypt but I am not doing it for myself. I’m not breaking God’s command.” Many examples of gross disobedience begin as clever rationalizations.
i. It is hard to know in what order Solomon’s compromise was expressed. Yet it is possible to say that this disobedience to this seemingly small command began the downfall of Solomon.
· First, in disobedience he multiplied horses for the service of his kingdom and he obtained them from the Egyptians (1 Kings 4:26, 10:28-29).
· Then, because of these connections with Egypt he married Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kings 3:1).
· Then, because he started by marrying an Egyptian he married many other foreign women (1 Kings 11:1-4).
· Then, because of the presence of the foreign wives he built temples to their gods for their use (1 Kings 11:7-8).
· Then, because of the presence of these temples he began to worship these other gods himself (1 Kings 11:4-5).
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